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The “Must-Have” Board Fundraising Model

It’s a frequent (and frustrating) situation: your Board doesn’t fulfill their fundraising role. Those who have friends with deep pockets in their network get the glory, while other Board members hustle and can’t meet their give/get requirements. How do you honor everyone’s contribution, yet challenge all Board members to be more engaged in the fund development process?

The new year provides a great time to introduce a new model and equip your organization’s leaders to become a "Triple-A" Board. (Kay Sprinkel Grace coined this term and developed this model. Check out her full approach here.)

Board partnership in development activities is critical for success. Not only are Board members a multiplier of staff efforts, but they are also incredibly important organization representatives and connectors. A Triple-A Board is one in which EVERY member is motivated to be an Ambassador, Advocate, and/or Asker.

An "Ambassador" has mastered the organization's elevator speech and clearly articulates the mission of the organization and its personal relevance. Why are you on the Board? What moves you about the work? Making a case for the purpose of the organization and your motivation to be involved goes a long way. Every Board member needs to be an Ambassador, starting from their very first day on the Board. They play an especially important role in cultivation and stewardship and create organic leads and opportunities for the organization.

"Advocates" are strategic members of the Board. They recruit members to the Board, engage volunteers in events, and make connections which lead to formal partnerships. They often serve as a formal representative for the organization and have been well-coached to speak about the organization's strategic plan, case for support, and vision for the future. Persons in this role help to move the organization forward through targeted conversations and interactions.

An "Asker" is any Board member who is willing to ask for support or recruit others to join the cause. Normally paired with another Board or Staff member, an Asker will be matched with prospective donors and provided necessary information to make the ask. Persons in this role benefit from the strong foundation laid by the Ambassadors and Advocates who cultivate and steward donors throughout the year.

How do you know which role you play? Some Board members do them all, but most will excel at one or two positions. This model provides your Board with opportunities for growth: a member can start as an Ambassador and progress to serve the organization better by taking baby steps outside their comfort zone.

How do you get there? With a shared culture of philanthropy, and using the phases of the donor development cycle, the Triple-A model:

  • Provides shared language and accountability for Board members.

  • Values all Board involvement. Askers may appear to get the glory, but this is a team effort and ALL Board members play a critical role

  • Requires staff to provide coaching, program updates, and stories.

  • Requires Board to constantly renew their commitment to the mission/vision

In a well-functioning organization, each Board member is offered the opportunity to participate in Triple-A activities drawn from the strategic plan. When you think about your Board, do you think it has a good mix of each A-- Ambassadors, Advocates, and Askers? In which category do you think the organization has opportunities to grow? Taking a closer look at the make-up of the Board and the roles that each person plays can be a helpful process to expand the development capacity of the Board (and organization) as well as inform training and recruiting goals. How does this information change your board outlook? Let us know in the comments.


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